BY: DUSTIN BATTY
Renewable energy systems and solar panel power will be the future of America. By now, most people have heard that American President Donald Trump has rejected the idea that human-induced climate change is a very real and dangerous threat to the world. It seems that he is even going so far as to “reshape” the American Environmental Protection Agency after Scott Pruitt, a man who has voiced his skepticism about climate change, is sworn in as head of the agency. Many of Trump’s appointees have strong interests in the fossil fuel industry, including his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who was the CEO of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016. This fact has caused much speculation that Trump is knowingly slowing the American conversion to renewable energy to keep the fossil fuel industry alive.
Despite these efforts, the use of renewable energy in America is expected to significantly increase over the next few years. According to Electrek, there was a solar power boom in 2016; in the third quarter alone, over 4 GW of solar power was installed, marking the largest quarter ever and showing a 191 per cent increase over the third quarter of 2015. The first three quarters of 2016 saw more installations than the whole of 2015, and when the fourth quarter numbers come in, they are expected to surpass the third by at least 700 MW, setting an even higher record.
And this trend towards solar energy is expected to continue into Trump’s term as president. This movement is expected to represent the American people’s rejection of Trump’s nonchalant attitude to climate change, as well as a sensible shift toward a clean source of energy that is becoming more affordable and accessible every year. According to Electrek, the cost of solar panels recently decreased at a rate of between 20 and 28 per cent per year, and this cost is expected to continue to drop.
An MIT Technology Report article explains that wind energy is set to follow this trend in the next few years. Tax credits are now available for wind energy projects that are started any time between 2016 and 2019, a strong incentive that will likely cause a sharp increase in the industry.
As a CBC report states, “The price of harnessing the power of the sun and wind has dropped so much that in many areas of the country, experts say it could be competitive with traditional power sources such as coal and natural gas even without federal subsidies.” It looks like renewable energy industry will continue to grow despite the fact that Trump’s “America First Energy Policy” does not even mention renewable sources, favouring oil, natural gas, and coal instead.
Despite the many concerns about the future of America’s renewable energy industry under the Trump Administration, solar and wind power are on the rise and appear to have a bright and breezy future.